How global warming affects you depends on where you are. A rise of two degrees Celsius may not sound like much, but it could cause crop yields in Africa to fall by half and those in North America to increase by a fifth. In Australia, already the world’s driest, hottest continent, those extra two degrees will kill thousands of people every year, wipe out kangaroo populations and turn water into a rarity in the south and east of the country.
Start preparing now†. Wildfires in 2009 unleashed energy equivalent to 1,500 Hiroshima atomic bombs on southern Australia, devastating over 400,000 hectares of land. The town of Kingslake was among those totally destroyed, so in the aftermath, residents Daryl Taylor and Lucy Filor set about building a fire-resistant “earthship,” whose banked walls are made from stacked tires packed with earth. In an inferno, earthships don’t burn, as demonstrated in 1996 by an earthship in New Mexico, USA, that survived fires that vaporized surrounding buildings.
If you don’t pull the ground up over you, burrow beneath it. In Coober Pedy, South Australia, daytime temperatures reach 55 degrees Celsius, but most of the town’s 3,500 subterranean residents live at a comfortable 20 degrees all year round. Miners in Coober Pedy (from the Aboriginal kupa piti, meaning “white man in a hole”) produce 80 percent of the world’s opals, and the tunnels they dig out of the crumbly sandstone can be expanded into a four-bedroom flat in as little as a day. Get digging.† When temperatures climb to 40°C in Burma, locals protect themselves with thanaka tree bark. Once ground and mixed with water, it becomes a pasty yellow sunscreen that blocks uv rays.